HC Deb 15 April 1981 vol 3 cc313-4
9. Mr. Mikardo

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will list the countries and parties visited by the President of the European Community during his fact-finding mission to the Middle East and the reactions of each of them to the Luxembourg Paper.

Sir Ian Gilmour

The Netherlands Foreign Minister, Mr. Van der Klaauw, has so far seen the secretary-general of the Arab League and visited Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and the United States. He is also expected to visit Israel, Egypt, the Palestinians, including the PLO, and other Arab States including Saudi Arabia. He has so far been received everywhere with warmth and positive interest. The details of his consultations remain confidential to the Governments of the 10 members of the European Community.

Mr. Mikardo

Since, apart from the warmth of a courteous reception, not a single front-line participant on either side of the Arab-Israeli dispute has exhibited the least interest in the European initiative in either of the tours that have been made, does the initiative serve any purpose except to prop up the amour propre of two or three Foreign Secretaries in Western Europe?

Sir Ian Gilmour

The hon. Gentleman has got his facts wrong. President Sadat has enthisiastically welcomed the European initiative more than once, and so has King Hussein of Jordan. Therefore, in at least two instances, the hon. Gentleman is entirely mistaken.

Mr. Temple-Morris

In the light of the Europen initiative, may I invite my right hon. Friend to concentrate on the Lebanon, in view of the deplorable goings on in that unfortunate country? How does my right hon. Friend envisage the Europen initiative helping the Lebanon and what is the Government's approach to dealing with the various sectional influences at work in that country, be they PLO, Israeli of Syrian?

Sir Ian Gilmour

As my hon. Friend implies, Lebanon cannot be considered wholly apart from a settlement of the Palestinian question. However, he will appreciate that the European initiative is directed primarily towards a solution of that problem. As my hon. Friend the Minister of State said in answer to an earlier question, there has been a great deal of diplomatic activity and the 10 members of the EEC have made demarches to both the Israeli and the Syrian Governments. However, I cannot enlighten my hon. Friend much beyond that.

Mr. Hooley

Will the discussions include the possibility of studying ways of strengthening the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon, which has suffered unjustifiable harassment and deserves the full support of Western Europe and of America, which created it?

Sir Ian Gilmour

I entirely agree with the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question. The UNIFIL force deserves full support. It has done fine work and suffered some sad casualties.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Does my right hon. Friend agree that part of the diplomatic activity on the European initiative demonstrated that an essential prerequisite in a settlement is that the future Government of the West Bank must at least have the right to determine, in the main, the nationality of those who permanently reside on the West Bank? In the light of more than 60 settlements created by the Israeli Government on the West Bank, does my right hon. Friend agree that that factor must be taken into account in seeking flexibility from both sides?

Sir Ian Gilmour

I agree with my hon. Friend. He knows that one of the subjects of the European paper relates to self-determination and exactly what that means on the West Bank. The question of Israeli settlements is related to that. The acceleration and strengthening of those settlements are obviously obstacles to peace and must raise doubts about the seriousness with which the Israeli Government are pursuing peace.

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